Hello world!

October 1, 2007

This may just be one of the least appealing blogs on the whole of the Internet, but never mind: here we are. Inspired by Astronomy Picture of the Day, we thought we should bring the same concept to the much more exciting science of sauropod vertebrae — but with a more realistic schedule.

In case you don’t know, sauropods are dinosaurs — but not just any dinosaurs: the biggest, best and most fascinating of them all. For most fossil vertebrates (animals with backbones) the skull bones are the most distinctive and informative, but sauropod skulls are fragile and easily disarticulated from their necks, and so rarely found. Instead, much of what is known about sauropods is known from their vertebrae, which are much more complex than those of other animals.

Our mission is to present you with beautiful pictures of interesting sauropod vertebrae. That’s all.

“We” is Mike Taylor, Matt Wedel and Darren Naish, a trio of palaeontologists. Matt and Darren have their Ph.Ds, Mike is working on his; Mike and Matt specialise in sauropods, while Darren favours theropods but moonlights in the sauropod world from time to time. Mike and Darren and English, Matt is American.

To start us off, here is nice photograph of one of the most iconic of sauropod vertebrae, the 8th cervical of the Brachiosaurus brancai type specimen HMN SII, in left lateral view.

Brachiosaurus brancai HMN SII, cervical 8

This vertebra, along with the rest of the vertebral column of Brachiosaurus brancai, was described by Werner Janensch in 1950, in one of a series of monographs exhaustively describing the osteology of this species. I (Mike) took this photo at the Humboldt Museum in Berlin, in March 2005. The vertebra is 113 cm in length, including the prezygapophyses.

20 Responses to “Hello world!”

  1. mwedel Says:

    This is basically a test comment, but I wanted my co-bloggers to note that I’ve been screwing around with the image settings, so if anything looks messed up, it’s okay. We can fix it.

  2. Mike Says:

    That is a cool bone. It would be nice to see it all labelled up to explain what everything on it is, for us laymen who may wander in here. Especially which end is the front end. It may be obvious to you guys, but, well, call me ignorant …

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    Patience :-) I am, even as we speak, working on a basic-vertebral-anatomy tutorial, based on illustrations of this very same bone! For now, though the front of the bone is to the left: that ball you can see below the sticking-out bits fits neatly into a socket in the back of the next vertebra.

  4. Amanda Says:

    This is probably going to be my new favorite blog. Really… I spent all day yesterday trying to figure out what a prezygapophyses is…and here it is, right in front of my eyes.

    I’ve been reading your blogs and any collaborative work by the three of you is bound to be entertaining.

  5. Darren Naish Says:

    Aww, shucks..

    There will be humour. Do keep visiting.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Amanda, that’s very encouraging! And, maybe, just a little bit scary. There’s a proper sauropod-anatomy tutorial coming soon, but in the mean time, you may find this page from the Dinosaur FAQ useful: Old music-hall joke: I say, I say, I say! What’s the difference between a centroparapophyseal lamina and a spinoprezygopophyseal lamina? (Sorry about the truly horrible pictures with the finger-like zygapophyses.)

  7. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    The Old music hall joke page is excellent.

    BTW, what is the punch line? :-)

  8. Mike Taylor Says:

    The punchline is: “Well, I’m not sending you to post my letters, then”.

  9. asier Says:

    113 cm???

    Doesn´t Sauroposeidon has a 120 cm vertebra????

    or 120 cm are without prezygapophyses?

  10. Mike Taylor Says:


    You can learn all you ever wanted to know about Sauroposeidon from Matt’s publications at http://sauroposeidon.net/cv.html#pubs

    But, briefly, you have UNDERestimated the length of its cervicals: the longest preserved element is C8, which has a 125 cm centrum, and a total length of 140 cm including the overhanging prezygapophyses. It’s not small.

  11. asier Says:

    Oh, great


  12. […] SV-POW!’s first birthday. Yes, it’s been just over a year since the very first post, Hello world!, showed us the Brachiosaurus brancai cervical vertebra HMN SII:C8 that we have seen so many times […]

  13. […] the closest thing to the Platonic Ideal sauropod vertebra: it’s the eighth cervical of our old friend the Giraffatitan brancai paralectotype MB.R.2181. (previously known as “Brachiosaurus” […]

  14. […] the eighth cervical of MB.R.2181 — is a very old friend: in fact, it was the subject of the first ever SV-POW! post, back in […]

  15. […] again. In fact a very special bone, the 8th cervical of Giraffatitan individual SII featured in the very first post […]

  16. […] blog is nine years old. Since Matt and I are both still enjoying it, there’s no reason think it won’t still be […]

  17. […] (to me, anyway), SV-POW! is ten years old today. It was on 1st October 2007 that we published Hello world!, our first post, featuring a picture of what may still be our favourite single sauropod vertebra: […]

  18. […] shorthand for A. louisae, the same way that their respective C8s seem to capture the essence of Giraffatitan and […]

  19. […] a bit shocking to find that SV-POW! is going on for twelve years old. (Our very first post was on 1st October 2007, so we’re about fifty days short of that […]

  20. […] years ago to the day, as a sort of jokey riff on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. Our first post, on 1 October 2007, was a photograph of what we called “the most iconic of sauropod vertebrae, the 8th cervical […]

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